A country amid oxygen shortage: Is India really running on God’s mercy?

India on Thursday witnessed the world’s highest single-day spike with 3.14 lakh new cases of coronavirus disease in the last 24 hours, pushing the total tally of COVID-19 cases to 1,59,30,965. With these numbers, the country is really being run by God and so is the observation of Delhi High Court looking at the precarious COVID situation in Delhi. As the handling of the raging COVID pandemic by the authorities came under increasing judicial scrutiny, the shortage of oxygen in the capital made the hospitals move to the High Court.

The COVID-19 situation in the national capital has turned so grim with many hospitals running out of oxygen, the High Court has directed the Centre to ensure that the gas is supplied to the city as per the planned allocation and without any hindrances. The court even warned of criminal action against authorities failing to ensure “safe” and “unobstructed” passage of oxygen cylinders for hospitals in the city from different states.

The Delhi High Court directed all the authorities concerned, which are bound by the order passed under the Disaster Management Act, to ensure strict compliance with the Centre’s direction that there shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods, including medical oxygen. The bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli also made it clear that the non-compliance of the order will be viewed seriously since it is going to result in grave loss of lives and will invite strict criminal action.

Oxygen crisis in Delhi:

The hospitals in Delhi were in a state of panic after their oxygen supply plummeted to the point that only a few hours of oxygen was left for thousands of COVID-19 patients admitted to them. Witnessing the crisis, the Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal urged the Central government to ramp up the bed capacity in the hospitals and to ensure ‘uninterrupted’ supply of medical oxygen. But when the situation turned more serious even hospitals moved to the Delhi High Court seeking an urgent critical supply of oxygen to them.

The bench, while dictating its order, said that the situation in Delhi has turned rather precarious with several hospitals reporting that either they have insufficient oxygen or will not last for longer period. The High Court on Wednesday issued strong strictures against the Central government and private industries and had ordered the Centre to “forthwith” provide oxygen by whatever means to hospitals facing acute shortage of the gas in treating serious COVID-19 patients.

Centre to import oxygen containers amid shortage:

Looking at the serious condition of oxygen shortage in the country, India decided to engage the Indian Air Force (IAF) to airlift oxygen containers and equipment from other nations amid the raging second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. As COVID-19 is hitting India hard, the Centre has engaged the IAF to airlift oxygen cylinders, regulators, and essential medicines as the National Capital Region faces shortage of oxygen cylinders and medicines.

As per various sources, amid the shortage of oxygen in the country, India will be importing oxygen generation plants and containers from Germany to cater the shortage. Around 23 mobile oxygen generation plants are being airlifted from Germany and will be deployed in static hospitals and provide adequate oxygen to the needy.

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